On: Money of Politics and Voting Reform

I have spoken extensively on the race for Representative in Missouri’s 2nd district [1,2,3,4,5], probably too much for some of my readers. One thing I’ve touched on briefly was the fact that Karam and Lesh don’t have a chance against Akin, just from the money standpoint. If they were to pool their money together, a walloping $60K, they would only have half as much as Akin’s primary opponent, Sherman Parke, who isn’t really getting his message out either, and primaries are fast approaching. Parker would need 5 times as much money as he has now to be close to equal footing with Akin on a monetary front.

Even Akin would need almost 40 times as much money as he has to be on equal footing with Jim Talent if he chose to run against him for the Senator’s job. (why does a Senator need 17 Million dollars worth of campaign funds anyway?).

It is pretty rediculous that it takes close to a million dollars to run for Congress, a job that pays less than $200K a year. I have three thoughts on this:

1) All campaign contributions should be taxed at a rate of 100% — If you donate $1000 to a campaign, you also pay $1000 in taxes.
2) Use it or lose it — any money collected for a campaign must be spent on that campaign — the rest goes into the general revenue fund.
3) I’ve discussed this voting reform idea before, but the gist of it is, eliminated term limits and give incumbants a pass on the primaries. Instead, after the primary the ballot would look like this:

Should Todd Akin be retained for the office of Representative for Missouri’s 2nd District?
[ ] Yes [ ] NoIf Todd Akin is not retained for the office of Representative who should serve in his place?
[ ] Sherman Parker – Republican
[ ] Richard Lesh – Democrat
[ ] Tamara A. Millay – Libertarian

Finance Information Source: http://www.opensecrets.org/states/election.asp?State=MO

Weekend at a glance

Friday night I played D&D with my normal crew.  Things were going along fine until the group started eating mushrooms – in the game, not in real life.  The bulk of their combat power resided in a single character who decided to eat a funny colored mushroom.  In that single instant, his character was destroyed, becoming 60 some-odd years younger — his character was under 30.

A short while later, the group found a ring of 3 wishes and wished the character back.  They continued to explore the dungeon until they found the crypt of a storm giant, whose ghost just happened to be waiting for them.  Although they had a decent strategy, they were really no match for the ghost.  It used a fear spell that sent the just recovered barbarian running away.  The rest of the group had their minds taken over, one at a time, until only brother Mike and Dan Bollini survived.  Mike was considering using another of the wish spells, and Dan agreed with him, but Mike misinterpreted Dan’s response.  Mike’s mind was taken over the next turn, eliminating the possibility of wishing their way out of the situation. 

Dan, the sole character to save against the mind control, chugged a potion of gaseous form and narrowly escaped…into the adjacent crypt containing the corpse of a titan.  Dan licked his wounds a bit, as it were, and tried to figure out a plan.  The ghost of the Storm Giant found him and finished him off.  Dan was very close to figuring out the way around the Storm Giant, but just missed it.

Thus ended the multi-year adventure of these 9th level characters.  Bollini said that he would run the next campaign.


Saturday  – believe it or not, more D&D, only this time with Justin and his cousins.  I was a player this time, and survived the night with hardly a scratch.  I am playing a Half-orc Barbarian/Sorcerer.  It is a fun combination.  Justin is playing a Cleric/thief, and Alex is playing a straight fighter.   It was fun to play rather than run the game for once.


Sunday I took Justin and Danielle to see Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man’s Chest.  I enjoyed the movie a lot, but now we have to wait for the next one to come out to wrap up all the loose ends — the whole story was building the entire time and you pretty much knew that they couldn’t resolve everything in the time allotted.  Besides a good story line, there were plenty of laughs and lots of good action.

Cynthia Davis — Anti-science nutcase, now against preventing cancer

I get an email almost every week from my state Representative, Cynthia Davis.  Some of the information she provides is useful, but when she starts stating her ill-advised opinions, it makes me want to scream.  In this weeks letter she distorts the HPV Vaccination:

Two Sides of the HPV Vaccine

You may have heard that there is a new vaccine to protect girls from getting Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which can cause cervical cancer. While medical technology seems to have paved the way for improved quality of life once again, there are some deeper philosophical considerations that should be weighed.

1.) Solution?—This is the first vaccine against a sexually transmitted disease. Will some be injured under the false notion that they will be protected against all sexually transmitted diseases? There are other diseases that are deadly and common for which there is no vaccine.

2.) Pressure—Will girls feel that it is okay to have premarital sex because they have been vaccinated? Will boys demonstrate less responsibility because the girl has been vaccinated? There will never be a vaccination against the emotional damage that may occur when people share intimacy outside of a lifelong commitment.

3.) Cost—It may cost about $400 to vaccinate one girl. The target group will be girls who are 11-12 years old. Who will pay for this—the taxpayer or the insurance companies? Either way it comes back to one segment of society picking up the tab for a lifestyle choice of another.

This vaccine treats the symptom rather than getting to the root of the problem. There is nothing inherently wrong with this vaccine, but it is not going to solve all of the problems surrounding the complexity of teen sex. The kind of parental involvement kids need today includes far more than just taking your child to the clinic to get another vaccine.

My brain went into overdrive as I read her email. I screemed out in agony, which made some coworkers look at me a little funny, but most of them just shrugged and went back to work*

I can’t say that Cynthia’s response is a complete surprise, in fact it was predicted.

Focus on the Family, a conservative social organization located in Colorado Springs, CO, has decided to oppose the mandatory vaccination of young girls for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), a virus linked to the formation of cervical cancer. Recently the FDA has approved a vaccine for two of the high risk (more likely to form cancer) subtypes that has proved very effective (over 90%) at preventing HPV infection in girls when administered before sexual activity.

Their rationale is as follows:

— No vaccine is 100% effective against disease– There are more than one hundred sub-types of HPV and the current vaccines being tested are effective against, at most, four of these

— The sub-types of the virus that these vaccines protect against are the cause of most but not all cases of cervical cancer

— The possibility of HPV infection resulting from sexual assault, including date rape

— The possibility that young persons may marry someone previously exposed to and still carrying the virus

— The HPV vaccines do not protect against other STIs or prevent pregnancy

— The HPV vaccines do not, in any circumstance, negate or substitute the best health message of sexual abstinence until marriage and sexual faithfulness after marriage.

It just turns out thatthis vaccine Gardasil was demonstrated to be 93% effective in preventing cytological abnormalities and 95% effective at prevent cervical infection. Let’s contrast that with some other vaccines. During the 1980s, there was a polio outbreak in Taiwan during which the direct effectiveness of the polio vaccine was tested. The effectiveness was found to be “to be 82% after one dose, 96% after two doses, and 98% after three or more doses.” I suppose we shouldn’t be prescribing that either.

The argument is shreaded in detail via the link above.  It also links to this coverage on the vaccine by Diane Carman of the Denver post:

HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that is the cause of more than 70 percent of cervical cancers – the second-highest cause of death for women around the world. The HPV vaccine could save thousands of lives in the U.S. each year and hundreds of thousands worldwide. As breakthroughs go, this is monumental.

Much like the pill did 46 years ago, this vaccine could dramatically reduce one risk of being sexually active.

From another Science blog – Terra Sigillata

Human papilloma virus, or HPV, is responsible for the majority of cases of cervical cancer. From the American Cancer Society website:

The disease kills more than 288,000 women worldwide each year, according to the World Health Organization. In the US, cervical cancer is expected to strike more than 9,700 women in 2006, and kill about 3,700.

Religious conservative attempts to try and deny access to the newly-approved HPV vaccine might actually make me go to church this morning…to open up a few cans of whoop-ass.

As Prof Stemwedel intimated on Thursday, to politicize a US FDA-approved vaccine and keep it from being deemed ’standard of care’ could result in lack of vaccine access to children of the poor.

Enough already. Believe what you wish but get out of the way of public health.

Does the US religious right really want to be responsible for the deaths of more young American women every year than the total number of people killed in the 11 September terrorist attacks?

But enough of general facts, lets tear apart Cynthia’s arguments:

Will some be injured under the false notion that they will be protected against all sexually transmitted diseases?  That’s great logic.  Let’s not vaccinate against Polio because people might think it protects them from Malaria.  People need to be educated about the availability of the vaccine anyway, that education can include – THIS DOESN’T PROTECT YOU AGAINST STD’s, it just minimizes the risk of cervical cancer later in life.

Will girls feel that it is okay to have premarital sex because they have been vaccinated? Will boys demonstrate less responsibility because the girl has been vaccinated? There will never be a vaccination against the emotional damage that may occur when people share intimacy outside of a lifelong commitment.  WHAT!?  First of all, a vaccine is not going to make a teen more or less promiscuous are responsible.  All you can do is provide teens with the information and hope they make good choices.  And what is the B.S. about  “emotional damage” from intimacy outside a “lifelong commitment.”  You may feel crummy about what you did after a one-night stand, but is she suggesting that you will have emotional scaring because you had sex with someone and didn’t live with them until death.  Does that mean that getting married puts you at a 50% risk for emotional scaring since about half of all marriages fail?  And I’m sure there is no emotional damage when you are in a lifelong committed relationship and your partner dies of cervical cancer because she didn’t get a simple vaccine.

It may cost about $400 to vaccinate one girl. The target group will be girls who are 11-12 years old. Who will pay for this—the taxpayer or the insurance companies? Either way it comes back to one segment of society picking up the tab for a lifestyle choice of another.  What’s the cost of treating Cervical Cancer?  I would venture it’s a heck of a lot more than $400.

This vaccine treats the symptom rather than getting to the root of the problem.  No, this vaccine prevents Cervical Cancer.  It is not meant to prevent teen pregnancy or teen sex, it is meant to prevent a virus that is a frequent precursor to Cervical Cancer.

More HPV vaccine info:

* slight writers embellishment .

Blog Shorts

Cover of the RFT

I walked into Crazy Bowls for lunch today, and the cover of the Riverfront Times was staring up at me.

 

bush.jpg

 

The RFT will do anything they can to try to get readers, so this wasn’t too surprising coming from them, but I’m wondering what fallout, if any there will be.

But it begs the question, “What would George Bush be like if he had been raised a Muslim in a country that hated the west?”  Bush is fanatical about religion now, so you have to think that he COULD be equally fanatical as a Muslim raised in another environment.  There is a chance that there were a series of events that gave Bush his sense of faith, and absent those events he would have been a much different person.

How much of what a person is like is based on there upbringing and environment and how much is based on how they interpret information and how there mind works?  Essentially it comes down to the biology vs. environment question.

This core question has changed my opinions significantly over the past several years.  I’ve run through the “What if’s” for my own life and knowing that I could have just as easily been born into a poor/abusive/immigrant/rural/urban family instead of a supportive middleclass suburban family,  has made me change my opinions about everything from foriegn policy to welfare to immigration to taxation. 

There are certain things about me that I think are not environment related (open-mindedness, desire to learn, etc.), but I wonder if in the wrong environment these personal traits could have been squelched instead of allowed to flourish?